Feminist Women’s Health Center v. Superior Court
California Court of Appeal
61 Cal. Rptr. 2d 187 (1997)
Claudia Jenkins (plaintiff) worked for the Feminist Women’s Health Center (center) (defendant) until she was terminated for refusing to disrobe and conduct a self-examination of her own cervix in front of other employees. Jenkins was hired as a health worker in August 1993. The health-worker job description explicitly stated that health workers must demonstrate a cervical self-examination. Also, the qualifications section of the description placed an emphasis on self-help; the center defined self-help as an approach to learn about and normalize the reproductive functions of a woman’s body. Jenkins signed a form stating that she read and understood the job description for the position for which she was being hired. In September 1993, Jenkins refused an instruction to disrobe and perform a cervical self-examination at a self-help session. Jenkins was instructed that she was required to participate in self-help. In October 1993, Jenkins applied for an intake-clerk position to avoid participating in self-help sessions. In November 1993, Jenkins started working as an intake clerk. Jenkins and another employee suggested that the center use mannequins or allow women to conduct the self-exam in private, but the suggestions were rejected. Tensions were running high at the center and attempts to defuse problems between coworkers failed. In December 1993, Jenkins was terminated for work performance. Jenkins brought an action against the center and several employees for wrongful termination in violation of her right to privacy, among other claims. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the center on all claims except the invasion-of-privacy wrongful-discharge claim. The center filed a petition seeking a writ to compel the superior court to adjudicate the invasion-of-privacy wrongful-discharge claim.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Puglia, J.)
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